Japan has always been a relatively low-crime country, but lately crime rates have gotten so low that police are getting bored:
This means plenty of attention for crimes that would be considered too petty to investigate elsewhere, such as the theft of a bicycle or the possession of a tiny amount of drugs. One woman describes how five officers crowded into her cramped apartment after she reported her knickers being swiped from a clothesline. A small army of detectives was assigned last year to apprehend a group of 22 people who had been growing marijuana for their personal use only and smoking it in deserted rural spots.
In fact, as the police run out of things to do, they are becoming more inventive about what constitutes a crime, says Kanako Takayama of Kyoto University. In one recent case, she says, they arrested a group of people who had shared the cost of renting a car, deeming the arrangement an illegal taxi. Some prefectures have begun prosecuting people who ride their bicycles through red lights.
Japan was one of the first countries to ban leaded gasoline. The phaseout started in 1972, and by 1980 lead was almost entirely gone. As early as 2000, Japan had an entire cohort of teenagers that had grown up almost entirely lead-free. This only happened in the US a few years ago. Now Japan is moving into their second cohort of lead-free teenagers. Overall, the country has been virtually lead free for nearly four decades, and the lead exposure of today’s Japanese children is “among the lowest in the world.”